We needed to celebrate a special occasion this week, so the cost for this dinner is a little more than our usual, but everyone needs to splurge now and then, right? For a little under $8.00 I put this fall favorite on the table for four, and had a little left over.
On the Menu:
- Apple & Dried Cranberry Salad with 1955 Special Dressing (my new favorite dressing - from Meta Given’s Encyclopedia of Modern Cooking. Cost for 4, about 75 cents)
- Pork Tenderloin with Sauce Poivrade (The tart sauce is really amazing – adapted from The French Laundry Restaurant – see below. Cost for four to five, $5.51)
- Mashed Potatoes (Our family favorite. On sale this week for $1.49 for 5 lbs, about $1.10 to make, using two pounds of potatoes, 6 tablespoons butter and a little milk.)
- Quick Stuffing (My own attempt to make stuffing in small amounts – still tweaking. Cost was about 60 cents.)
Special Occasion Pork Tenderloin Dinner Pork Tenderloin with Sauce Poivrade, serves 4 – 5. Cost : $5.50
- 1 pork tenderloin, about 1 1/4 pounds
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons Black Currant Jelly
- 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
- 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of corn starch dissolved in about a tablespoon of water.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season tenderloin with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and sear in hot pan with olive oil. When browned on all sides, remove to a small oven proof dish and bake until a thermometer reaches 155 to 160 degrees in the thickest part, about 25 minutes or so. Remove and tent with foil.
After the tenderloin is in the oven for about 15 minutes, in the pan you seared the tenderloin, 2 cups of chicken broth, the jelly, and the red wine vinegar. Bring to a boil and reduce to about one cup. Stir in cracked pepper. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and simmer a few minutes to thicken. Keep warm.
When you slice your tenderloin, mix any juices that have accumulated into the sauce.
Money & Time Saving Strategies:
For pricing, remember to use your coupon matching sites for your local stores. My favorite is Pocket Your Dollars in my area, but every store has a group of enthusiastic couponers who can point you to the best bargains. Don’t be discouraged if your prices are higher at first – just keep shopping the best sales and follow the strategies and you’ll get there! Check under Saving on Basic Ingredients for more detailed information and storage hints – use <control f> to search each page to bring you to the item you want to check out.
Believe it or not, I’ve already reduced this recipe to bare bones – well maybe not, because the original sauce recipe from the French Laundry called for getting real bones – riblets from the butcher, roasting them till brown, then extracting the goodness with 1/3 cup of water, simmering till nearly gone, then doing two more reductions, each with 2 cups of demi-glace – the first to about 1/2 cup, the 2nd to one cup. My cut back recipe is still really good, and quick enough to cook for dinner without making a hobby of it, but sometimes I trim my pork chops and save the bones just so I can have the bones to make this sauce.
- Pork Tenderloin: This is another item that is often on sale during the fall season; in our area I look for specials that are 2 for 1, often I find these on the cryovac Hormel tenderloins (we prefer to buy them NOT marinated and marinate our own, but that’s personal preference. I don’t really care for the strong tastes of some of the marinades they use.) Because Hormel often has coupons for their products for $1.00 off or $1.00 off two, I use those at the same time as the specials to maximize my savings. Be sure to buy two roughly the same size if you’re taking advantage of a BOGO offer. In this case, I had no coupons, it was $3.50 a pound. Cost: $4.38.
- Chicken Broth: Make your own, it’s so easy! Use a good one for this, though, if you’re not making yours.
- Jelly: Always try to use a coupon and buy on sale. I’ve noticed the currant jams and jellys are getting harder to find and are more expensive, they’re my preferred – not usually as sweet as the others, so that’s what I used here. My cost for 2 tablespoons is 49 cents. You could lower the cost by substituting regular old grape.
- Red Wine Vinegar: Every so often they’ll have coupons for vinegar, making name brand lower than store price. Best time to buy is generally around Easter for the basic White or Apple Cider. Summer is usually when you’ll find the good cooking vinegar on sale. Stock up on the best prices because they keep forever. Now and then you may see vinegar bloom – this is what they call “the Mother.” Not very attractive, but it does not affect the quality of the vinegar. My last bottle was around $1.00, so the cost is 3 cents.
- Pepper: Since this is a lot of pepper, I’m going to have to guess – 10 cents?
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 229 Calories; 10g Fat (39.7% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 74mg Cholesterol; 366mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 3 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.
Put Your Own Spin on It:
The original recipe called for pork chops, so I often make this recipe with them. Sometimes I serve this dish with braised red cabbage, baked apple compote and potatoes, and it is also wonderful with cauliflower.
My Pay Off: In the past, we often went out for special dinners. It’s hard to justify the cost when you can put a delicious and not too complicated dinner on the table like this that certainly looks restaraunt quality and was easy to make. Consider that it was all for much less than the cost of an plate at an inexpensive restaraunt, and to me, it becomes all the more attractive. This complete dinner for four to five isn’t much more than the cost of one of the premium meals at McDonalds.
Discussion: What are your easy, elegant meals bought in at a budget?